Obituary: Richard McDonald

Richard “Dick” Lawrence McDonald, a longtime resident of Walnut and Claremont, died peacefully at Kaiser Permanente Ontario on April 14, 2016. He was 82.

He was born on a brilliant summer day, July 19, 1933, in the hardscrabble mining town of Leadville, Colorado to Robert and Josie McDonald. “Dickie,” as he was called as a little boy, was a loving brother to his siblings Sharon and Janice. Being born during the Great Depression to a father who was a coal miner, he didn’t enter the world in the lap of luxury. The family moved several times during his early childhood until they settled in the town of LaFayette, Colorado. With his friendly, ambitious nature, Dickie quickly became the darling of his small town. He wholeheartedly embraced an adventurous, active lifestyle. He became an excellent athlete, leading his LaFayette High School teams to glory on the football and baseball fields and on the basketball court. 

During high school, he met Nancy Ruth Preston and they fell in love, eventually marrying.  Despite his humble beginnings, Mr. McDonald yearned to better his life situation. He joined the US Army so he could ultimately fund his education through the GI Bill. During his time in the military Nancy gave birth to a son, Linn Scott. Returning to civilian life, Mr. McDonald went back to Colorado to attend Colorado State College in Greeley, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics. During this time another child was born, a daughter named Heather Dae. 

Mr. McDonald became a high school teacher at Aurora High School near Denver,, staying there for three years until his striving nature pushed him to return to academia. He earned a master’s degree from the University of South Dakota and then made the move out west to California. He taught at Fullerton High School for one year before moving across the street to Fullerton College, where he remained a professor for the next 33 years before retiring in 1994. 

Mr. McDonald will be remembered for his friendly and compassionate nature. He was always willing to extend a hand to those less fortunate than himself—sometimes to a fault. He threw himself into parenting duties with enthusiasm and, when the grandchildren arrived, he again was available to assist with their care. With retirement, he had more time to become involved in their activities. Dick’s love for animals was legendary and, in the latter stages of his life, he became passionately involved with various rescue organizations. During one period of his life, he also traveled extensively, visiting several continents. His passing will leave a large void in the hearts of people he knew and loved.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Nancy, his son Linn, his daughter Heather and his sister Sharon, as well as seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A private memorial service, with the scattering of Richard’s remains, will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made in Mr. McDonald’s name to an animal shelter rescue organization.


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